“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”-Henry Ford
Out of all the hobbies I could have chosen to put my time and effort into, running should have been dead last. In fact, there was a time in my life when I would’ve told you that I would rather watch paint dry than go outside and attempt to run a mile. My negative experiences with running in the past created many misconceptions in my head about the sport that hindered me from ever attempting it voluntarily.
As a two-sport athlete in high school, I was no stranger to conditioning in order to stay in shape. However, my sports never required much running, and I always dreaded sprints or any type of endurance drills. Due to this, any time I was forced to run a certain distance, I would become easily frustrated at my body for being so out of shape. I also wrongly assumed that running was reserved for the people naturally built for the sport. My illusions were shattered, however, once I saw my Dad’s positive experience with running. Afterwards, I made a decision that not only was I going to start running, I was also going to train for a half marathon. This proved to be one of the most difficult yet rewarding decisions I have ever made.
Now, you’re probably wondering how my running journey could possibly have anything to do with my other life goals and passions; however, there is actually a direct correlation between them. This is how I created a champion mindset in order to overcome my greatest fears and achieve what I first deemed impossible.
1. I had to take it slow.
When I first decided to start running, I thought I could easily be on the same level as my Dad, running as fast and for as long as he does. I have never been more wrong in my life. I struggled to keep up with his times, and I found myself getting out of breath and tired within the first five minutes of running. I soon realized that I was going way too fast for a beginner. If I wanted my running journey to last more than a week before giving up, I realized that I needed to slow myself down. I found it was much easier to run a 13-minute mile than attempt to run an eight-minute one. By doing this, I learned to not rush into things; I had to take things slow and build endurance before working my way up. This proved to be crucial in developing mental toughness so I could keep pushing despite the increasing level of difficulty running proved to be for me.
2. I learned to expect resistance from others and embrace the seasons of loneliness.
As I began to find success in my running journey, I noticed that others did not always share my perspective on my progress. I would often receive offhand comments questioning why I would ever put myself through the trouble of training for something that is so difficult. As I became more successful in running, I realized that less people were beside me and supporting me and instead thought I was insane for running. As I was racing through my own journey, I started passing by people that did not share the same aspirations as I did. However, I chose to not look back at them and their opinions. Instead, I kept my eyes forward to the journey ahead and embraced it.
3. Creating a champion mindset does not equate to striving for perfection.
There have been days when running that I have failed to meet either my desired time or distance, and I have always been disappointed in myself after. When this has happened, I try to remember that I am human, and sometimes our bodies fail us without an explanation. Even if I got enough sleep the night before and properly fueled my body, I could still have a bad run. So when I failed, it was vital that I recognized it, assessed why it happened and then figured out how I was going to deal with it. There were times when failure was a learning experience. However, sometimes, it was simply a sign that I needed to take a break. Once I learned how to tell the difference between the two, it was much easier to navigate my journey.
4. I never lost sight of my why.
There are still some days when I run that I find myself looking down at my watch instead of up at the path in front of me. I care more about the calories I’m burning, and I begin to forget why I started running in the first place: to achieve what I never thought was possible for me. When this happens, I try not to focus too much on details that most likely won’t matter in the end. Since I have become so passionate about running, I always remember things that will motivate me to keep going. I also set standards for myself that are both attainable and match up directly with the end goal I have in mind so I can feel when I am getting close to succeeding. When I draw near to the end of my desired mileage for that day, my mind becomes a little clearer, and my steps become a little faster. I am almost there, so I can tell myself that I might as well keep going. Trust me, it helps.
The skills I have learned from running apply to so much more than just the sport.Now I can also run the race of life without looking back at the things that could hinder me from succeeding in my passions.If I had succumbed to the negative words my mind conjured up when I first started running, I would have slowed down to a permanent stop a long time ago. Instead, when I decided to run my first half marathon, I made a vow to myself that I would crawl past the finish line if I had to. Thankfully, that was not necessary as I successfully finished the half marathon with the greatest sense of accomplishment I have ever felt in my life. I even went on to train and finish another half marathon a year later. Creating a champion mindset was absolutely one of the most difficult yet rewarding things I have ever done. Now, when I find something else in my life that I am passionate about, I can utilize the right mindset in order to successfully reach the finish line. When my training finally ended, I rested in the fact that I achieved what I was striving for while learning more about myself and what I stood for. I’ll never be the same, and I am so grateful for it.